The volume of retail sales fell by 0.2% in the month of October.

In the year to that month, the figure was down by 0.9%, according to the figures from the Central Statistics Office.

When motor trades are stripped out, there was no change in the month, but the volume of sales was down 1.6% in the year.

Furniture and lighting showed an increase of almost 5%, while electrical goods were up over 2.5%.

The motor trade showed the biggest monthly decrease where the volume of sales was down 4.4%.

Clothing and footwear sales were down by almost 3% in the month.
There was no change in the value of retail sales in the month of October but the annual decrease came in at 2.1% when compared with October 2012.

When motor trades are excluded, there was a monthly increase of 0.3% in the value of retail sales and an annual decrease of 2.5%.

Figures 'disappointing' but future growth expected

Alan McQuaid, chief economist with Merrion Stockbrokers, said the figures were weaker than expected.

He points to the labour market statistics as a key determinant of economic performance in the coming months, and the signs there are encouraging.

"Having peaked in February last year, the unemployment rate has fallen steadily since. A continuation of this trend in the coming months will eventually be reflected in stronger retail sales in our view," he concluded.

Retail Ireland described the figures as disappointing, but noted that the potential for growth later in the year was there.

"It appears that, just as in September, speculation about the impact of the Budget led to people spending less in October," Stephen Lynam, Director of Retail Ireland said.

"It is likely the fall of almost 20% in electrical sales compared to October of last year was due to the high number of new TV sets sold in the run up to the digital switchover in late 2012. Those sales have now fallen away," he added.

Small and medium business group ISME expressed concern at what it said was a continuing low level of consumer demand.